DIY Mastering


Lesson Info


In my eyes converters you know they're necessary thing you need these to start making music but um what you absolutely in the most important thing in your entire system in my opinion is speakers now when I say this one answering reddit questions a lot of get a lot of cross dies or weird emoticons in my feed so if you think of it this way everything you really do like you know, there's all these people on the internet who were going to talk about cut a two forty this is how you compress this this I could press that when you come to learn once you've been doing this for any amount of time is that everything's different everybody gets different results and you wonder why when you try these people's recipes they don't quite work for you is because music is all about the reaction you have to the infinite amount of variables that come from sound. So in order to react to those variables you need tto hear them for speakers or comfortable with and then know those speakers to know how to react. ...

So would I often said many people who are much smarter than he passed on to me before this your relationship with your speakers is the single most important thing the way you react to sound is what makes you make these decisions and how well you know these speakers and how well you you know, are comfortable with, uh, these there's one how fast you can work into how good decisions you can make a lot of people, you know, and what I say, a lot of people, myself included were always chasing the next peep good piece of gear. I am always looking for an e q with a great high end all my life, I'm always looking for a better guitar iam taking make those palm mutes in the pop punk record some better um and I'm buying new ones and they keep getting more expensive, it seems and all that fun stuff, but with the speakers these air kind of like your family, you want to develop a relationship with, um you want to know them really? Really, really well, because you don't want to do all day is like when we go through this a being it's because we're trying to hear what's happening, but with my speakers in my studio cause I've been working off these general expert eight years in the k r case we have I've been with him for fifteen years when I hear something on them, I immediately know where the trouble in basis there other times I get confused from working too long or losing my perspective from tweaking to absolutely I do a little a being on back at my north star your speakers are something you want to sit you want to listen toe other music on you're going to listen and you're gonna start to know when a kick drum hits it should have a certain amount of pun shed eighty two d b you should be feeling at this much I literally no how much basis coming off something just the way it even feels on my skin when I sit down to do a master and I turn it up to eighty two d because I do this so often so much of this is learning how to do fast reactions and not having to sit on a bee and just knowing when things are right on your speakers when you've been listening to your favorite records on the same speakers for years you've known that emotion of like when a song really blows you away and then you know what that feels like when you're mixed starts blowing you away and you say I've done it you know and you know this for sure so what I advise everybody to dio is you know just like these audio interface is there's a certain level of speaker that are really really you know they start to work and they're not that expensive um you want to find one of the speakers repairs of speakers and then you want to work on building relationship you don't want to sit around and keep upgrading your speakers every year sometimes it gets tough though, because so the other thing about it is you want to find a good fit it's kind of like, you know, speakers could be a little like dating some of us like trouble some of us like base as I get older every year I find I like trouble us so I thankfully picked a pair of speakers that aren't the trouble your speakers I've ever heard but you want to find one that's like, you know when you listen to music you're really impressed by it and it's really doing something that feels good to you and then you want to stick with it jumping around you're not building relationship now would I have is is I have my general x that I've been with for years and I do the ninety percent of my work on and then would I have after that is I have a couple of friends who tell me if my best friend and I are not on the right track we don't know what we're talking about um so I have ah, modeling is ten and anus ted is a really standard speaker um that you see in every single studio picture and then I have a mano a von tone which is just a three and a half inch speaker I have a couple pairs of headphones, some beats, some apples, these sennheiser headphones there twenty dollars I have a pair of releases that are mounted in the wall that air really big, but truth be told, I don't use those for any work aside from impressing people were morons and wanted just here it really loud while I walk out of the room and I don't have my ears blown to shreds, and then I have a pair of computer speakers by a company called ht pro that make really high end computer speakers that I listen off of all of these speakers. Khun, tell me if I'm getting something wrong on dh there just ah fact, check there also like I have the beats of the apple headphones to tell me when my clients are listening to something they say it's too trouble, I want to hear what they're hearing and make a decision that's informed and knows what they're talking about what's great about those is that that's what most people are wising on? So if you have those, you can know what the real world sounds like. So as I've said, these air arguably your most important tool in a relationship you wantto learn them. I can't tell you how important is, if you know, if you have a home studio and it's at your desk it's so easy to sit and listen to music in front of your speakers all day and build this relationship up um but if you're not you know you even want to put on your speakers listen to other things when you're doing working you know when you're aligning quanta izing midyear you know, doing something we don't have to do a lot of let's say installing plug ins or whatever boring thing you have to do for the day put on music and get to know your speakers if you're using a low quality speaker what the detriment to it is is that you're always working harder than you have to um it's really like some speakers are just not translating properly now can you get to know their flaws? Absolutely but even some of the lower quality ones have such bad falls that like you're never here in the bottom optimum base and if you're doing bass heavy music that's not going to be fun on you know I love karaoke ah speakers and but like rocket fives bass response just don't go down to the bottom october so you're always going to be having trouble with that if you make bass heavy music. However, if you make punk are metal it's not a lot of those bottom octaves aside from a subject these days so if you're not doing that that's not really the end of the world you should have a good para monitors that you really work off of all day like you always see in the special stories usually have to stereo pairs, and then you might see a guy with, you know, his boombox and stuff like that. I, you know, use that monica oven tone computer speakers I listen on my laptop every once in a while when a mixing if I'm really confused about the vocal level and you have three opinions on the vocal level, I'll usually use that as the file, because it dumbs it down to a level where everybody can make a decision, you're not focused on the ring of the symbols, you're just focused on that another thing I'm really impressed with is mixing off of jam box or a beats pill. I have a jam box, and I will say this, it really points out all the flaws in the bottom, and really apparently to me and it's, great to pay seventy five dollars to buy one, and then you have some music at the beach. So it's it's a good time like that? Um, one of the big things these days, or the what a lot of people called the marketing ploy of speaker pads, I don't think there are marking for I think they're great if they sit on your desk, I was really, really skeptical, and what I love about those is my desk doesn't shake, since my speakers are attached on where those big desks I can judge my bass better and most of all would you have him at home your neighbors like you a lot more we know how important that is um but yet they help you really to get a better base and I you know, warlocks mo pads for fifteen dollars or the d I y version of just cutting up some foam and putting it down for two dollars from some shipping you got from amazon those air both great great options and I really, really recommend them so let's talk about specific brands I use general x um ten thirty I actually use ten thirty's thes air ten thirty one days since those air the more popular version might have a smaller one for um there's a twelve hundred secondary market they actually don't make them anymore but you've seen them in just about every professional studios picture um affordable the k r k rocket siri's are fantastic despite the fact that these labels they're covered covered up I think another great affordable speaker is the yamaha hs inmates are fantastic I get mixes and uh to master from some people who use those that do fantastic work all the time and they're very, very affordable especially if you go to ebay um there's a few other very affordable brands out there the one thing I will say is like well you don't see is is our super super cheap things is yes you know speakers with smaller than with five inch will first don't reproduce all the base you need I'm not personally the fan of a subwoofer because I don't do tons and tons of bass music I have a subwoofer that collects a lot of dust and then when I turned it on really pumps all that dust out at me it's really really pleasant um subwoofers are great if you're doing really based heavy music most of what you can get your work done on are these so we get to the great category there are so many expensive speakers out there all of them are awesome if you have the money to do these I really suggest you do a lot of listening in fighting which ones you respond well to adams or fantastic speakers and in fact the first time I heard them I thought angels were coming down from the heavens I don't believe in to sing to make um they sound great but what I found is when I'm mixing I don't particularly like them cause I don't like what they do to transients um drum sound weird to me even though they sound fantastic I can't mix on them that's personally me folk als I have friends who do great work on them but they are a more expensive speaker barefoot ar fifteen thousand dollars and they sound like heaven and I have friends who make great records on those as well I think the big thing we will talk about is that, you know, if you start going into, you know, most music stores these days that's all pro audio have a speaker switcher oh, annoy the hell out of that annoying guy guitar center and get him back for all the times he told you that you should buy a different string pair than you really wanted teo, by making him switch monitors for you, start oh, see what you want and then figure out who you want to develop a relationship their ship with think of it as, like, speed dating with computer speakers. Um, if you have a pair of speakers that's pretty good, keep on going and keep on building that relationship if you start to question it like you don't I started off on k archaic rocks because there wasn't a lot back then for under a thousand dollars that you could get general x were way more expensive then, so I didn't get those. And somewhere through my relationship with them, I said, you know, I want to start maybe, you know, going on to my second marriage and I brought in my general x wherever I used my care cases, my main speakers, and then slowly I started switching over the general x until I was just a comfortable all the general x I do a lot of homework of switching between the two speakers and hearing what was the difference of them until I wean myself off and then eventually I don't really use the cave rocks at all anymore. Now my partner in my studio mike he uses my k rocks and now he has a pair of jet alexis is doing the same thing um over time you know you can wean yourself off if you have a relationship that you want to break off it's ok? Divorce is legal in america um, so that we talk about these real world references. So as I talked about before there's my mono and as ten that's on my left side every day as you can see there's a paper towel over the twitter because I hate how troubling it is that something a lot of people do with these things because one of the other things we should talk about with monitoring is really troubling speakers give you your fatigue and obviously your fatigue is our enemy because we want to work really long hours. I tend to be really sense of the trouble as I get older so I like a speaker that's a little dim to the trouble it's awesome of the general exes they have a trouble like you on the back and you condemn that trouble as you become an old man like me and I actually do have my general x totally flat, though, so I shouldn't really helped that, but I've tried it down and doesn't work. I like the way they sound that oven tone, as you see one single, three and a half inch speaker that's powered by an amplifier, it is thie, one of the best tools you have for just dumbing down your mix, but just hearing enough of it that you can really tell levels with both the speakers, I hit the mono button that's available on just about any monitoring station so that I can here a really dumbed down version. I don't want the stereo spread fooling me that there's more separation than there is. I just want to hear the dumbest, most boiled down version of it, so I know what the levels really are. I know what the frequency is really are and my cluttering up the mix when I do my baby's, this will tell me totally different things. Oh yeah, I'd love for you to go ahead. Yeah, just move on, huh? If you're using a council that doesn't have a mano button, what what can I do, teo beside just setting the left channel or never to get a solo um, I believe I'm gonna fact check this while I say this, um okay, so there's some plug ins that have a motto button on them that you can put on your master fader and then hit mono so you would put that after your brick wall women er which I know we said that's always last because you have to do this improvisation that will be your last thing you hit the model button the other big thing is too is that so? One of the secrets which isn't really a secret since it's on three thousand message boards is I keep talking about single speaker mano what I did for years because when I started they didn't manufacture cool things like this at least for under twenty five hundred dollars is that you can get rid of one of your speakers and then put it in mono single speaker mano as opposed to stereo mano is much, much more helpful you know, one of the reasons we care so much about mono is like for example, this thing is really popular to listen to music on so let's talk about the speaker it's just right here now, while it's playing back both of the stereo you don't get much of a stereo spread from that the same thing with the jam box you know it's stereo there is four speakers just sitting right there being happy in there but there's no spread there's no way to be in the middle of that so it's not possible to actually have a stereo spread their, um go down to single speaker whenever you can do it and I'm sure if you google mano plug in, you're going to find something free that you know, that doesn't take much coding genius for somebody that I have done so I could tell you how to do it in logic if you go to utilities and gain um I put the game playing on there and just check the box that says mono don't change the gate earning just checked about only pro tools was that smart any other? Yeah, what we're talking about listening back in mono um obviously there's some tradeoffs between your your stereo mics in your model mix what do yu listening to, um when you're listening for amano mix and what is a problem that you would hear that you would solve in your stereo mics if it if you determine it was a problem when you see yeah that's a great question so most commonly ob it's about space, so especially when you're doing heavy music there's this problem all the time are, you know, are the guitars and the vocals fighting too hard? You know, the biggest mix change I get for my best friend dean bris bore is I want the guitar and vocal battle he wants that to be one a certain way that's going to be something you deal with every day is because that's a really tight level disparity, like you're goingto not have a lot of space in most genres between the vocal that the mono dumbs it down to a point where you're not getting fooled by the fact that your guitars upend all the way out all of a sudden there's no more panning, no more was not petting does create space, and you'll hear that about it. Like one of the best tricks I word from reading now on molder interviews, he talked about panting and motto, so you're like, yes, how you do that? That sounds like a bunch of interview craft that somebody made up what's actually interesting is, if you paying around a bottle, what you'll notice is you'll hear different separations if you pan everything to the center, even in mono, you're just going to hear this clutter, but if you do the stereo paddock, it does create mix because of its how it's hitting the mix bus not how it's hitting the speakers so you can hear panning in mono. So what I would say is this is what I tend to do is abe so, like let's say, I'm not figuring out something in my mix, and I'm like, you know, I'm just not getting what I want in the separation like I'm listening to another record and they really have something I'm like let's get another perspective, I hit my motto button, I go to my off on tone, I will listen to how their mix sounds in that and then try to match that and see if I get a new perspective. So a lot of time I'll sit there, I'll go well, their vocal is way more clear amano than mine my guitars, air fighting, let's turn up the vocal or turn down the guitars and all of a sudden my problem is solved a lot of time because you know you're really dumbing it down and making it easier for you to process when it's not you know, you have four speakers all of a sudden dumbed down to one three and a half inch speaker, it really just is bringing it down to a different level, so when we comes to mastering to what it also does is it brings it down to the point that you're not getting destroyed. You know, a lot of the funny thing with, like bastard is especially when you start to get your head into is you stop hearing the vocals and the like. Things but that could be hard by I'd set to get into like I can remember when I worked for alland ouch is what I had to turn to, oppa said you realize there's white power lyrics of the song your master is right now he doesn't know and I have done the same problem because you're not paying attention to the lyrics they always said you have to call it the clients that I'm not doing this record it's a lot of fun it happens though and like you not paying attention to these little things, but sometimes you're getting too engrossed in the details and this gets you out of those details and big sis, you can't ignore the most basic parts a three and a half inch model speaker doesn't let you get wrapped up in the panning, said the sizer it's telling you there's just this and this is all you can pay attention to his frequency span some dynamics and not even really much dynamics like there's not much dynamics to a three and a half inch speaker at eighty two d be so um it's just very telling and can really be a calling card uh this is, you know, what's happening here, so there were some questions from the internet, so any of the age fifty one fifty asked, is it better to purchase secondhand monitors that have been broken in or new ones so this broken in thing is a weird one to me because like you know yes I hear gear all the time and there's something about when we first get here that I don't know if it's a phenomenon that yes, it sounds better like I just gotta gear back from repairing the first thank you record with a piece of gear you always feel like it sounds so much better but I don't know if it's just that you're falling in love again or whatever it is I don't if speaker is being broken in they some better when they're new are broken in is a thing well, I guess we're all in luck because if you're doing a lot of work you're going toe they're going to broken in for most of my life I have no problem buying speakers used I've had to buy both my general excuse because they haven't manufactured them for years I am not somebody who's scared to buy used but I also know the tricks of ebay like don't buy from people would have under one hundred sales stuff like that when you're buying something over a thousand dollars that's my number one evade tip my number two is talk to the person to make sure they conform coherent sentences and don't write well we're case I and the letters c and the letter u for sentences stuff like that some might say emoji is bad anyway, I disagree strongly with the I know you think this is that this is where somehow we don't agree on you that's their response to a good one, I will see your package there anyway, I think buying secondary speakers is great, I actually I'm a firm believer in a lot of second hand here, I do think there's some gear you shouldn't buy second hand, but, you know, plug ins are fantastic secondhand because you can't really damage them, so okay, great. There was another question from a guest in the chat room. What what in she recommend for home studio speakers? Five and six inch, eight inch so six inch serrated edge are my preferable ity five inch I know when I work, I go to a lot of friends, studios and obviously hangout and work with music, and I helped them set up their speakers and stuff like that, I just find my number were doing five inches. I hear a song like I'll bring over something a song I know when I hear a five inch speaker, I know I'm missing a lot of information that I know is they're on most other speakers, but like I said, like, you know, especially if you're doing like punk, punky stuff five inch mater is not really getting rid of much of what you're use um you know, dub step or if you're producing trap music and you're doing it on five mute five inch with all those sub hits and trap music, you're not doing very well there on audio interfaces from ribble double uh uh, any interfaces that you would specifically recommend avoiding original in boxes from abbott, did you design uh, the lowest quality m audios air really, really, really bad? Uh, they really call your sound personas that fire pod thing that's one of the worst sounding interfaces I've ever heard. I mean, no offense, I think I love personas, but they weren't doing good in that era with that original fire pod that I've heard never heard any good music made on that thing. In fact, it sounds terrible. Uh, you know, what's great is is I think most of what's manufactured today and new and you open your sweetwater catalogued before they call you twelve times a day, most of what's in there for a couple hundred bucks you can work off. It didn't do great, I think we're in a great, great era for that so thie apogee one I think, is two hundred fifty dollars to just redesigned it, so the build quality is a little bit better the apogee jam is not an interface, it only goes in not out but it's not that's for the eye. Patterson yeah, yeah, well, and csb so you can use it from nothing but it's ninety nine bucks. And from my experience, I have one. I also have an apple tree one I think the input quality is just, I think it's the same eighty converter as it just doesn't have the d a you know, for a hundred bucks, you can get at least one good channel in. Yeah, that's great. I mean, the channel out, though, also helps because I was the one thing I will say is monitoring off your apple converters. They're very boxy and cold, and you're gonna be distorting your mix more than you really would. I know this from doing this at home when I didn't have my home set up. So as well, then you get to go back to the studio. You go. Well, I really tried to warm that mix up a little too much for these really cold converse. And you know, apple, still for a low grade has some of the best converters you could get for a little grade cover. But there dot converters you want to use when you're trying to make music the world hears.

Class Description

Mastering is often the difference between a good recording and a bad one, but mastering is notoriously difficult to understand. In this two-day workshop, sound engineer Jesse Cannon — who’s worked with the likes of Ross Robinson, Saves the Day, Animal Collective, The Misfits and Man Overboard — shares what he’s learned about mastering from working at top-tier studios like WestWestSide Music and Cannon Found Soundation. 

While there’s no substitute for having an engineer master your music, that’s just not feasible for many artists. This class is the next best thing: a comprehensive guide to DIY mastering.

Jesse breaks down the mastering process from start to finish. You’ll discover the basic principles behind mastering, and learn about the processes and tools at your disposal. Jesse will identify and troubleshoot basic rookie mistakes, discuss lesser-known essential concepts as well as share his essential behind-the-board tools as he takes you through a few real-life examples.

After two days with Jesse, you’ll have everything you need to master your tracks with affordable tools.


Michael Pena

This class was awesome. Jesse goes into detail about the mastering process and best practices for mastering in an easy to understand way. The live mastering session was very informative and educational.